• Researchers at Caltech are using focused ultrasound hyperthermia to activate tumor-suppressing bacteria that release anti-cancer drugs.
  • The application of focused ultrasound to activate the genetically engineered strain of E. coli bacteria limited tumor growth in a preclinical model.
  • The study was recently published in Nature Communications and has been featured by several leading media outlets.

Key Points

  • Researchers at Caltech are using focused ultrasound hyperthermia to activate tumor-suppressing bacteria that release anti-cancer drugs.
  • The application of focused ultrasound to activate the genetically engineered strain of E. coli bacteria limited tumor growth in a preclinical model.
  • The study was recently published in Nature Communications and has been featured by several leading media outlets.

Caltech bacteriaUltrasound-Controllable Engineered Bacteria for Cancer Immunotherapy

A research team at Caltech led by Mikhail Shapiro, PhD, is using focused ultrasound hyperthermia to activate genetically engineered, tumor-suppressing bacteria. After the bacteria are delivered systemically and infiltrate tumors, focused ultrasound is used to trigger the bacteria to release anti-cancer drugs. The activated strain of E. coli bacteria limited tumor growth in a clinically relevant cancer model. This new study was recently published in Nature Communications and highlighted by several leading media outlets.

"The goal of this technology is to take advantage of the ability of engineered probiotics to infiltrate tumors, while using ultrasound to activate them to release potent drugs inside the tumor," said Dr. Shapiro. "This is a very promising result because it shows that we can target the right therapy to the right place at the right time. But as with any new technology there are a few things to optimize, including adding the ability to visualize the bacterial agents with ultrasound before we activate them and targeting the heating stimuli to them more precisely."

Using focused ultrasound to provide cellular-level control of bacteria as a therapeutic agent could impact many different diseases and conditions, especially tumor types that are impenetrable by other cancer immunotherapies.

The study was funded by the Sontag Foundation, the Army Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

See the article in Nature Communications >

See Caltech’s Press Release >

See Media Coverage from The Daily Beast, ZME Science, TMR Research Blog, and Currently by AT&T

Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/James Archer

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